When I was online all day for work, it was no problem at all for me to track our expenses using Mint and to keep the categories of our spending up to date daily. But with the kids around all day, I rarely get to use the “real” computer, and the iPhone app for Mint won’t split single purchases (like “Target”) into multiple budget categories (i.e., I bought food, clothes, and home items in one purchase). Also, I just pretty much forgot to check Mint most of the time. At the end of each month I would be horrified and apologetic about how much I unintentionally spent on food and home items in particular.
Then my friend Sarah pointed out that I could actually try using cash for just those two categories. That had never occurred to me! We pay all our bills online, many with auto-draft, and I just thought there was no way we could do our entire budget with cash, so I gave up on the cash idea a long time ago. But I could handle just two categories in cash!
I have been doing this one full month so far and it’s amazing! I was actually under budget for groceries for the first time in YEARS. Of course, I also got to the point where we had to eat sandwiches for dinner at least once because I stupidly spent too much money trying out a new recipe early in the week. But that is how we learn. Of course, the key is menu planning. If I can carve out enough time in my week to do menu planning, I can more easily stay within the budget.
It’s a total miracle! Let’s see how long I can stay on this plan!